I ran into Patricia Michaels at the Post Office one morning recently.
She was in town briefly visiting her parents and partner (James Duran), at Taos Pueblo.
“With my James as Tribal Sheriff this year, I hardly get to see him,” she laughed. “He’s so busy, I’m so busy then when I come up, sometimes I lose time helping him!”
She was getting ready to head back down to Santa Fe where she lives and works these days. We talked for a while outside and she showed me the beautiful parasols Heritage Hotels commissioned for their gift shops. Longtime patrons and supporters of Patricia’s work, Jim Long’s company hired her to design the unique uniforms for the staff at their luxury boutique Hotel Chaco in Albuquerque.
Patricia has been designing and making clothes since she was a teenager. Her first commissions were for local Rock musicians, which is when I first met her. By the time she participated in Project Runway, she was already well-known in New Mexico.
Recently she was asked to dress Sivan Alyra Rose, (the first Native American actress to star in a Netflix series) for the red carpet and several promotional events including the premiere of Chambers, which also features Uma Thurman.
“I was so honored.” She said at the time.
Patricia who has won multiple awards and earned recognition for her work (both as a Designer and Philanthropist), in Indian Country and beyond, is always surprised when she is singled out. It’s a testament to her incredible modesty and humility, and her latest project elicited her usual response of joy and gratitude.
Chosen as the artist to create the chair for Congresswoman Deb Haaland in the next phase of “A Seat at the Table” exhibit at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute, is both an honor as well as a great milestone for Native women.
I asked her to please tell my readers a little about this process and how she was selected?
“I was invited by the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture in Santa Fe to participate in a jury for possible representation to do a chair at a show called “A Seat at the Table”.” She explained. “The chair would be representative of Congresswoman Deb Haaland to be shown at the Edward Kennedy Center in Boston, MA. “
“I chose Congresswoman Deb Haaland out of a list of others,” she continued, “ because she is our first Native NM Congresswoman. It is important to stand behind her and give her all of our support, because in her position she has a lot of responsibilities that by sending her a little of what I believe would empower who she is, I decided to create something humble.”
“On the occasions that I have been fortunate to speak with Congresswoman Haaland she takes the time to address many issues that are that of the working people and all that is living. She is smart modern woman who has family values and a strong voice for the Missing & Murdered Women & Girls.” Patricia noted. “Under our, great recent loss of Senator John Pinto I was invited to work on an appointed task force to help Congresswoman Deb Haaland with her campaign to resolve these horrible and terrifying truths.”
“She also is fighting for no fracking of our natural resources on sacred old sites or Native lands. She is environmentally concerned. She is fighting for women’s right to be pro-choice and so much more.”
The exhibit will represent twenty people whose lives are being interpreted by twenty artists from both the past and the present. Each of them has had an impact on society through their lives, their work, and their struggles.
Apropos for Patricia Michaels who has been on the front lines of social justice for as long as I’ve known her!
The opening night of “A Seat at the Table” is on Wednesday, June 12 from 6-8pm.
To find out more on the exhibit visit the Edward M. Kennedy Institute at:
All images (including Patricia with Congresswoman Deb Haaland, fellow Santa Fean, designer Tom Ford, and Sivan Alyra Rose in a PM Design), thanks to Patricia.